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Comrades From The North

The UK is currently basking in an extended heat wave, something that is most unusual for these isles. Even then, this meteorological phenomenon is not universally evident throughout all parts of our green and pleasant land. If you live anywhere on the North-East coast you would commonly find many "heat-wave" days characterised by low cloud or even sea-frets. As with the weather so it is with life itself. Someone once said "It's life and life only" - and Al Stewart made a whole song out of that line!! So here we are again and Dylan has commenced yet another leg of his indomitable touring schedule, this time in the Far East and the Antipodes. If you get to see him we hope it's a good one.

These days it seems like every band or artist worth their salt has a lost album lurking in the vaults. In Dylan’s case there are hoaxes (Snow Over Interstate '80), someone else’s creations (Great White Wonder and beyond) or real gems (most of The Bootleg Series). For some artists, a lost album is concocted out of alternate takes, different mixes stirred together with a less-than-liberal sprinkling of songs that didn't make the cut. In the case of the world's greatest band, The Beatles, there is no such lost album (ignore the naysayers, though one could arge for the acoustic demos of The White Album!) as their quality control meant that we got all of the A-grade material on their official releases. But every once in a while there is a genuine lost studio album discovered which is the real deal. John Coltrane's 'Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album' comprises recordings from a session in 1963 including three numbers that do not exisit in any other studio version (and only one of which was played live) together with some radical alternatives of others. The story is that the master tape was lost but Coltrane gave his own reference tape of the recording to his wife Naima, later to become his ex-wife, and the tape has stayed in her family’s possession ever since. Thank goodness. To top it all the album has entered the Billboard charts - Coltrane’s first hit record!

The moral here is that, when it comes to releasing studio sessions, jazz labels usually do the job properly and give the buyer every take and very often the false starts and breakdowns. And the bigger the star, the more one gets. Not always but often. And that is how it should be with archive releases. We have been lucky as Dylan fans to benefit from the wonderful Bootleg Series and we certainly have had more than we might have expected in the years since the first release. But some sets have been a shade less than perfect - the first set was to have had four discs, the live 1975 show missed the opener When I Paint My Masterpiece, there are a host of tunes that could have graced Another Self Portrait and so on. But we did get comprehensive sets of The Basement Tapes and Wittmark Demos so let's be thankful.

In this issue is an interesting account of Dylan on film in 1993 by Anders Lindh. This highly informative piece is an extract of the follow-up volume (currently under production) to the successful Bob Dylan in Performance - A Filmography 1962-1987 (available from The Bridge.)

You will read in Jotting Down Notes of John Baldwin’s sad passing. John was certainly the most generous of men in the Dylan fraternity giving time and effort in so many ways so that we all were better informed and well catered for when Dylan toured. Selfless and understanding, he will be sorely missed. Roll on, John!

On that sad note we wish you all the very best over your summer (or winter in the other hemisphere) and look forward to doing this all again next time.

May you climb on every rung ..........

Mike & John

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